In my previous post, Herman Maurer & Anna Klee: Maternal great-grandparents, I stated: “I am still searching for records related to Herman and Anna’s childhoods, specifically 1870 and 1880 census records.” After posting the blog, I started a new search. Results: two records found — 1880 census for Herman’s parents and 1870 census for Anna’s parents. Happy dance! However, the search was frustrating and required more time than I expected. Multiple strategies include name variations and children’s names. Here’s my report.
First, Herman Maurer.
Search attempt record from research log for Valentine Maurer, Herman’s father:
|10-13 Aug 2018||Family Search/ Ancestry||Collections, BMD, census||online, generic||Valentin/ Valentine, Maurer, b. Germany, 1825-1830; names of each child||After multiple tries (about 3 hours total), Valentine Mauiner, age 52, Brooklyn, 1880!! Posted to Ancestry tree.|
As expected, the family was finally found in Brooklyn, New York, in 1880 . However, the search involved many road blocks. Previous searches for the family using Ancestry database (at least 4 hours) had produced no results. Next step involved looking at Brooklyn census page by page. About 30 wards and townships with hundreds of pages in each ward quickly spoiled that effort! I really appreciate the pre-digital age researchers who spent hours reading those hundreds of pages on microfilm! I tried using the names of Herman’s siblings (Valentin, Katherine/ Katie, Rosina/ Rosie, Joseph and Edward). No luck! I tried using asterisk as placer for surname: Maur*, Mau*, Ma* on Ancestry with similar lack of results.
Go to the next website- Family Search. Begin again and use same search strategies of children’s names and surname variations. Finally, a hit!
The transcription reads:
Mauiner, Valentine, M W, 52, head, b. Germany.
Annie C, wife, F W 32, b Germany.
Valentine, son, M, 22, b. New Jersey.
Herman, son, M, 20, b. New Jersey.
Kattie, daughter, female, 14, b. New York.
Rosie, daughter, female, 12, b. New York.
Joseph, son, M, age 9, b. New York.
Edward, son, M, 5, b. New York.
Mauiner as surname! Anna was actually 52 years of age, not 32. That explains why I didn’t find them before now. I tried similar search strategy for 1870 census without success. The search continues for Valentin and Anna in 1870!
Also of interest is that 14-year-old Kattie Maurer is recorded as a box-maker. She made paper boxes, possibly match boxes, at home and was paid per piece. Her minimal wages supplemented the family’s income.
Onward, to Anna’s parents, Ludwig or Louis Klee and wife, Anna or Katharina. This search finally yielded even more surprising results. I used a similar strategy, beginning with Ancestry database then moving to Family Search database. I typed in Ludwig Klee, Louis Klee, Anna, and Katharina as parents. When no results found, I tried the names of their children – Fritz, Anna, Katherine/ Katharina for 1870 census and added Mollie and Louis for 1880 census. Again, no hits on Ancestry database. Next database searched was Family Search. Again, I used the same format of surname, parents, and children. Finally, I used the asterisk approach of “Kle*”. I had almost given up when an 1870 entry showed Anna Kleh, age 25, and Fritz Kleh, age 7. Male, head of household was recorded as Louis Rleh, age 30. These names and ages sound familiar!
Here’s the transcription :
Louis Rleh [Klee], 30, M W, machinist, value of personal estate $600, place of birth – Prussia, parentage: father of foreign birth- marked; mother of foreign birth – marked.
Anna Kleh [Klee], 25, F W, place of birth New York, father of foreign birth – marked, mother of foreign birth- marked.
Presumed children: Fritz, 7, M W, place of birth: New York.
Anna, 6, F W, place of birth: New York.
Katharine, 2, F W, place of birth: New York.
Louis, 1, M W, place of birth: New York.
As with the Maurer family, the transcriber wrote the surname as it looked. The search continues for Louis and Anna in 1880!
To help you with similar problems, try these steps:
- Begin in town from another census. Narrow down location (township, post office, ward, election district) as much as you can.
- Review other census records. Place of birth recorded for each person may give you a clue.
- Use name variants found in other records.
- Use a few letters of name with asterisk to broaden search.
- Change first names to anyone known to be in household, with name variants same as above.
- Look in other census sources, online and print.
- Review possible records page by page.
Expand your research toolbox to include other resources. Here is a partial listing of online resources:
- American Ancestors. No cost to search. Paid subscription to view records. Guest membership gives access to limited records.
- Internet archive. Digital copies of microfilmed census reels.
- National Archives & Records Administration. Includes information about the census process as well as links to other websites for viewing the records.
- One step webpages by Steve Morse. Free. Offers a variety of aids to find your ancestors from multiple datasets. Includes ED (enumeration district) finder.
- U. S. Census Records. Free search; requires payment to view records. Searchable database.
- US Gen Web. Available records vary by county and may include birth, marriage, death, census and land records. Obituaries and other items of interest from local newspapers may be available. Many sites list cemeteries.
- Census links: Free links to transcriptions of census, tax lists, birth, death, marriage and military records.
- Free online census records and indexes- USA: A Genealogy research guide. List of websites with information about census and other records.
- Census Diggins. Selection of census and other records.
Online family tree databases suggest records through a link to your family tree on their website or another family tree program. Check your family tree software program for access.
Print resources (partial list):
- State-specific census indexes. Available at many historical society libraries. Check with your local library and state or county historical societies.
- Local and county histories. Biographies and other information, such as lists of school board members, will give clues about a person’s residence during the census years.
This post was easy to write and tells of my progress in obtaining census records for Valentine Maurer and Louis Klee. I wish that I could report 1870 and 1880 census records for both families. Oh, well, subject for another post!
What I learned: Census databases are not created equal! Don’t limit myself to the most popular websites. Try using known address from one census to find enumeration district for another census. For Brooklyn, try same ward from another census.
What helped: Knowledge of search strategies. Being able to narrow residence to city and state. Tracking search attempts and strategies on research logs.
What didn’t help: Number of pages in Brooklyn census. I was too lazy to look through hundreds of pages.
TO-DO: Continue search for Valentine Maurer (1870 census) & Louis Klee (1880 census) families. Use multiple sources, including print indexes available at Oklahoma History Center library. Keep detailed record of search attempts, including key words, on research logs.
 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Valentine, age 52; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.
 1870 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Ward 16, p. 78 (penned), dwelling 288, family 762, Louis Rleh [Kleh]; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8NB-M8X : accessed, printed, downloaded 14 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593.
© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018.